The Battle Over Belarus : The Rise and Fall of the Belarusian National Movement, 1906-1931
Sammanfattning: This study examines the rise and fall of the modern Belarusian national movement during the quarter century between 1906, the year when the first Belarusian paper appeared, until its demise around 1931, as a result of political repression in the Soviet Union and Poland. It surveys the emergence of the modern concept of a Belarusian nation, from the first steps towards national consolidation in the pre‐revolutionary era, through the energizing of the national movement following the February Revolution and the German occupation, the Soviet experiments in nation building during the 1920s. It analyses the difficulties linked to the establishment of Belarusian national communism, let alone the modern, ethnic definition of nationality in an economically disadvantaged, and relatively underdeveloped region. In Western Belarus, which was under Polish rule between 1921 and 1939, the peasantry was often lienated from the nationalist intelligentsia. In the BSSR the local population often misunderstood the Soviet nationalities policies, resisting new and unknown taxonomies. The result of these experimental policies were not what Moscow had expected. While the Soviet nationalities policies, known as Belarusization came to exercise considerable attraction on the emerging national movement in Western Belarus, in the BSSR they resulted in an increasingly independent leadership in Moscow. After Piłsudski’s coup d’état established authoritarian rule to Poland in 1926, the Soviet government became concerned about a Polish invasion. While the Belarusization had strengthened the nationally conscious elites in the republic, it had failed to generate support for Soviet rule. By 1929-1930, opposition to unpopular Soviet polices, such as the collectivization, brought the borderlands close to a popular uprising, which was followed by a crackdown on the national communists in Minsk. The purges of the elites in the BSSR were more thorough than in any other republic, leading to the demise of 90 per cent of the Belarusian intelligentsia. While the repression took different forms in Poland, from 1927 Piłsudski's sanacja regime banned, jailed and deported to the Soviet Union the leading Belarusian activists, and stepped up the attempts to Polonize Western Belarus. The national mobilization was interrupted. For the next six decades the Soviet Belarusian nation building was carried out from above, increasingly in the Russian language, and with little autonomy for the government in Minsk.
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